Hillside Have aged care facility will be sold at auction on October 14.
Hillside Have aged care facility will be sold at auction on October 14. Peter Carruthers

Staff play lotto in desperate bid to save nursing home

FORMER staff members of beleaguered Collinsville institution Hillside Haven Aged Care facility are buying Lotto tickets in a desperate bid to afford to buy back the facility that went on the market earlier this week.

The property will be sold by auction on October 14 by LJ Hooker in Bowen.

Built in the 1990s on donated land and operated by a community collective Hillside Haven served the needs of Collinsville's elderly population for close to 20 years until it was upgraded to a high-care facility and management was taken over by D&R Community Services.

In April this year it became apparent the facility was in financial trouble and receivers were appointed to recover money owed.

Director of D&R Community services - the company running the facility - Debbie Rivers was accused of misappropriation of company funds and residents' pension accounts.

Burdekin MP Dale Last in April referred the company and its director to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission for investigation.

Workers at the nursing home and Collinsville residents were left scratching their heads as to how her company came to control what was once a community-run facility.

Ms Rivers in late April this year was found dead, floating in the swimming pool of her Cairns apartment.

After the sale of the facility was announced this week former staff member Vicki May said she hoped the new owners would work with the community to get the aged care facility operational again.

But she believed it to be unlikely.

"We can only hope that there are some human beings with compassion out there who have a willingness to take a risk," she said.

"It's frustrating, we see so much potential. You could do so much with that building. We could have it as a respite area or work with Queensland Health to start rehabilitation and physiotherapy. People travel hours to get to Mackay and Townsville when we have buildings here."

After receivers were appointed and it became clear the 11 residents and 17 staff would have to leave the facility and neither the Federal nor State Governments were going to come to the rescue it was suggested the community could front the money to save Hillside Haven.

Manager of the facility when it was run by a community committee, Lorna Simpson, said the mortgage taken out on the property by D&R Community services was so large it was impossible for the community to meet the financial demands of the receivers. Bay Bon Investments have been charged with recovering the money that is owed by Hillside Haven.

"I don't think the community is going to raise that money. We have been through solicitors to see if we can get it back. We don't have any legal right to the property," she said.

"It's hugely disappointing, it's a huge loss for the community"

Ms May is holding on to the hope that the new owners are going to breathe new life into the beleaguered facility.

"The town is invested in that building and we are going to be very very interested to have a say in what it gets turned into. We do want it sold but we want it sold to someone who is willing to work with us," Ms May said.

"We want to turn it into something that will be beneficial to not just our town but beneficial to Glenden, Mt Coolon and Strathmore."

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